(In honor of the SOPA blackout, this blog post won't contain any hyperlinks. While I'm confident what I put here will stand on its own merits without hyperlinking, I think hyperlinking really does enhance the internet's "pinball effect," to use a term I encountered in one of James Burke's books. On the other hand, I could, of course be telling you any ol' kind of crap, and you'd just have to take my word just as right wing extremists take Ron Paul's word that he authored every word of his Survival Report because it said so at the time, and everyone should just wink and nod about that stuff when Ron Paul's trying to get elected president. Or something like that. Do your homework. If you want to know what SOPA and PIPA is - besides the latter being a naughty word in Greek -then look up SOPA & PIPA on the Google and also please vent on the Facebook page of "Remove Jaime Herrera Beutler," or on her own Facebook page because the latter Congressperson is falling way behind in her job performance. And that's it for today's PSA.)
I recently finally decided to try out Pandora radio's "comedians" feature, possibly as a result of seeing a recent PBS episode of "Make 'em Laugh." I have been listening, in particular, to Lenny Bruce (described, delicately, by Pandora's "artist info" as having a "Northeastern" sensibility or such.) I think Mr. Bruce would have demurred: He was a Jew, I think he would have pointed out more accurately.
Mr. Bruce is widely respected by today's comedians, because he was such an artist with his voice; his style was heavily influenced by jazz. That much you can get from the old Dustin Hoffman movie "Lenny," and from that movie you also get he died of a heroin overdose and that he was hounded by the government for saying naughty words. The last bit wasn't quite true. He was hounded by the government because he was such an acute critic of their authoritarianism. One bit left out of the movie was a bit where Bruce is doing a dead-on caricature of a Southern/Southwestern used car salesman, who was selling a WWII era German car that was only used "to drive to the furnace."
You can't say that on TV today.
I bring up this incident - my exposure to Lenny Bruce via Pandora, that is - because it is re-thinking my view of Lenny Bruce, most of whose recorded material I still probably haven't heard, and because it will (eventually) get to a point about Buddhism and everyday life. My "original opinions" about Bruce were largely formed by the aforementioned movie and a Simon and Garfunkel song ("A Simple Desultory Philippic, or How I was Robert McNamara'd into Submission") which contained the line "I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce" sung in sarcasm. My original opinions were formed this way because throught the 60s and early 70s Mr. Bruce's material was effectively blacklisted from mass media, except for whatever LPs were in print at the time.
Simon should repent of that song. History has shown that he couldn't hold a candle to Bob Dylan, despite Mr. Simon's own considerable talents.
Lenny Bruce, despite his personal failings, was a craftsman with his voice, and influenced the following generations of comics. If you go to Sarah Silverman's Youtube website, there's a video of her giving a "confession" which is both hilarious and G-rated. If you think her thing is easy to do, try it; it's not.
Barbara on her Buddhism blog mentioned the fact that the brain "source codes" its information when it stores it, to bring up the fact that we should constantly question what we experience (and memory is an experience). I thought of this when I was hearing Lenny Bruce and the used car salesman bit. It's amazing how our preconceiving notions and biases seep into everything we do and think and experience.
Paul Simon probably won't read this blog, but it's interesting how I used to have a higher opinion of him than I do now, and for "the other two Jewish folksingers of the era," namely Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, well, the latter two have eclipsed him.
History and perception are funny that way.